Cosmic Quote #4//Summer Rerun

“All generalizations are false, including this one.” –Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Droll?  We would expect that from the greatest raconteur of American letters.  But perhaps this is far more subtle and profound than a mere semantic joke.  Kurt Gödel proved with his incompleteness theorems that every self-consistent mathematical system must include statements that cannot be proven–the mathematical equivalent of “this statement is false.”  But Twain takes the classic liar’s paradox and applies it, it would seem, to all of existence itself.  There are things in life and in science we just can’t determine,  and that is the point of The Millennium Conjectures.   I need to ponder explanations for what the cutting edges of physics and cosmology are telling us, whether we can test them right now or not.   But don’t misinterpret this.  One of my readers suggested that if I believe things that cannot be proven scientifically, then it is no better than philosophy or religion.  I don’t know about philosophy, but this is most certainly nothing like religion, and for two good reasons.

  • First, these are, after all, conjectures and interpretations;  things I feel strongly could be true.  I do not believe absolutely that they are true.  As I said in an earlier post, they are what-ifs.
  • Second, I stand ready to alter or drop any of these conjectures if the light of further developments requires that I do so.  By further developments I mean new scientific discoveries or better explanations by individuals I consider to be credible scientists.

I don’t know of any religion that says either of those two things–let me know if you do.

Keep the above in mind as I present further conjectures.  Quantum Weirdness 103 will precede the next one, coming soon to a computer near you.


  1. Believers believe everyone is essentially like them, and you can’t convince them otherwise. It’s what they do.

  2. Rather than a sense of absolutism, you seem to be scientific about these conjectures. They’re hypotheses, and are only believed until something different comes along.

    As for religions that state those things… I’m drawing a blank.

    • I would say more philosophy based on my interpretation of the science, though not exactly that either. They are possibilities based on the science, being kept open until the light of further information requires they be altered or abandoned altogether. That is certainly not what religion is about.

  3. Well, we all work with certain assumptions, like the idea that the ground is solid, matter is solid when apparently it has been proven that it is mostly space. It is just easier to walk around with the assumption that for the most part, there is no chance I will fall through. That said, it is also fair to assume that I should always pay attention, as limited as my attention my be, to where I am placing my feet. I get lazy is all. I fall down sometimes and then I curse the gods.
    I think schools of thought can get lazy, religions start out questioning at least religion. Too be fair to religions, they can be comforting to some.
    I don’t know if Vonnegut wrote this (I think so) but I like the expression: “Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly, man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’ Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land, man got to tell himself he understand.”

  4. Indeed we do operate on assumptions based on our everyday experience of the world. It is really only in the past century with relativity and quantum mechanics that our intuitive view of reality has been so fundamentally shaken…

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